In light of the passage of the Child Victims Act and the continued increase in awareness of the Catholic Church’s role in the issue, more survivors of sexual assault and abuse are coming forward to share their stories. This includes Plainview, New York resident Janet Klinger, who recently stood in front of St. Agnes Roman Catholic Cathedral to share her experience of childhood sexual abuse and describe how Msgr. John Mott—her childhood priest from Plainview—abused her as a young teenager in 1968.
When her father found out years later, he wrote to the bishop of their church, Bishop McGann, requesting that Mott be removed from the priesthood. However, McGann’s response said that Mott was cleared for continued work as a priest after undergoing psychological tests.
This response by the bishop and the church has not gone unnoticed by Pope Francis, and this past weekend the Pope assembled nearly 200 high-ranking Catholic Church figures from all over the world for a four-day conference on child sex abuse within their institution. Although survivors and others impacted by these scandals are skeptical that this conference will bring actual reform, the Pope’s stated goal for this meeting is to demonstrate to survivors the seriousness with which this issue is now being considered within the Catholic Church.
While the church may have done little in Klinger’s eyes to help her, she is now able to take legal action against her abuser through the Child Victims Act. This recently-instated law extends the timeframe by which survivors of abuse in New York, like Klinger, may seek justice against their abusers.
Specifically, this act increases the statute of limitations determining which age a survivor of childhood sexual abuse may file a claim from 23 to 55 years of age. Furthermore, in criminal cases, victims can also sue their offenders until they reach 28 years old.
One of the most important and timely elements to this bill, however, is the establishment of a one-year window within which survivors of childhood sexual abuse of any age may come forward and take legal action against their abusers once this legislation is enacted. Thanks to this Act, if you or a loved one has experienced any form of abuse as a minor, you may have legal recourse available to help you.
At Goldstein & Bashner, our compassionate attorneys understand the sensitivity surrounding these cases and could use their experience and keen legal skills to build a claim on your behalf, so that you may focus on moving past your trauma and on with your life. Reach out whenever you feel ready to schedule an initial consultation.